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Digital Health and Technology in Dentistry

Technology is a broad aspect within health care, which is where digital health comes into play. Branching into digital therapeutics, it is a single thread that binds all careers to develop empathy skills. Digital therapeutics is using high-quality software systems in the treatment of physical and mental disorders remotely and have been clinically proven through decentralised clinical trials.


One of the greatest uses of digital therapeutics has been treating ADHD in the US that faces the challenges to medicate patients or not as it comes with side effects, however, the idea an app or game can be used to have the same effect as medicine for such conditions is exciting. This has been clinically validated by the FDA, shown to improve attention which is measured by computer-based testing with countries such as Italy, Belgium and Germany leading this revolution in Europe (Gautam S D Balasubramania Pandian, 2021).


Digital therapeutics are implemented in personal care; it uses genomics, gene data to predict conditions you are more likely to develop and help prevent them earlier on. CRISPR, a genome editing method is used to isolate and switch off oral cancer associated genes in dentistry and alter functioning bacteria responsible for plaque formation to lead to the reduction of preventing dental caries and periodontal surgery, hence helps as preventative care. Robotic surgery is another aspect with the use of VR headsets in an operating theatre to not only conduct surgery but teach surgical trainees skills allowing students to ‘be present’ (The medical futurist, 2020). Specifically towards dentistry, it has outpaced other fields of medicine in adopting this method helping dentists build on their empathy skills through simulations putting them in the shoes of the patient or in challenging situations. This not only allows for a change in perspective but the alternative viewpoint enables better communication as a dentist taking into consideration the patients’ difficulties and accommodating treatment plans towards the patient precisely. Dental phobia - one of the most common type of phobias - can be overcome using headsets to listen to anything to their liking which acts as an effective distraction and positive experience. This disassociates the negative stigma around dentists and helps overcome the anxiety (Altexsoft software R&D engineering, 2021).


This technology provokes digital first-care with the idea you don’t need to go to the GP clinic and can be delivered care by the right professional at a right time convenient to the patient before facing symptoms that are difficult to manage by another discipline in medicine.


Accessibility and equitability are important to dental care as people in rural areas rarely get access to the dentist, hence tele dentistry allows easier access, is cheaper and allows patients to consult with otherwise unavailable medical professions (The medical futurist, 2020). During the covid-19 pandemic, its increasing popularity demonstrated the necessity to be able to diagnose remotely and allowing dentists to build rapport, capture images/video call in helping them connect and come to a solution.


Digital 3D printing has shown its importance during covid-19 to bypass supply chains and meet hospitals’ demands incorporated in dental labs. CAD (computer-assisted design) and CAM (computer-assisted manufacture) are effective, low-cost tools used in digital labs allowing dental technicians to drill teeth prepared for a crown, take an image processed in the that makes the crown. This contradicts the traditional method of dentists making moulds of a tooth for a crown, waiting for the dental labs to make a permanent one which would be fitted, suggesting 3D printing is efficient, less time-consuming, precise, reduces the amount of labour needed and eliminates bottlenecks in the dental lab of manual modelling (The medical futurist, 2020).


In conclusion, software systems within digital health are incorporated within dentistry that have had an excelling outcome within current events such as the covid-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of digital remote care to ensure accessibility to healthcare. Technology becoming a part of the modern Generation Z allows creations of the VR headset and 3D printing to accommodate dental students and dentists through treatments and patient care.

References

Altexsoft software r&d engineering, 2021. Digital therapeutics: How software can treat diseases. [Online] Available at: https://www.altexsoft.com/blog/digital-therapeutics/ [Accessed 1st March 2022].

Gautam S D Balasubramania Pandian 1, A. J. 2. Q. R. 2. K. K. S. 3., 2021. Digital health interventions (DHI) for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children - a comparative review of literature among various treatment and DHI. Pubmed, National library of medicine, Volume 297.

The medical futurist, 2020. 9 Technologies That Will Shape The Future Of Dentistry. [Online] Available at: https://medicalfuturist.com/the-amazing-future-of-dentistry-and-oral-health/ [Accessed 1st March 2022].


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